for the love of simple food. (slow roasted tomato and basil bisque)

Posted on Jan 10, 2011 in Food

I love simple food.

Sure, there is a time and place for a laundry list of ingredients and dirtying every bowl in the kitchen—cinnamon rolls come to mind—But after work on Monday is not one of them.

Weekday dinners call for short ingredient lists and easy clean up. Simple food doesn’t mean bland.

Orchestrating the right foods with the right cooking methods and the right seasonings can create magical food without a lot of time in the kitchen.

Cue this soup. Slow roasted tomatoes and basil are blended with scaled milk and simply seasoned. You’ll never want to eat canned soup again. It is smooth and creamy, with a sweet tomato bite.

Please, please, please use good tomatoes for this. You’ve heard me say this before, but I’m going to say it again—simple foods require high-quality ingredients. Optimally, you’d walk out your door and pick the fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes off your plants and roast those.

But alas, it is January (and that photo is from August).

So make sure you are using high-quality canned tomatoes. Obviously, the best canned ones would be home-canned, but if you are like me and have no tomatoes stored, go to the Italian section of your grocery store and find a good quality brand. I use Cento, which is decidedly more expensive than the Hunts or store-brand tomatoes in the canned veggie section, but totally worth it. Italian plum or San Marzano would both be delicious.

The idea for this soup came from this fantastic cookbook we got from my sister for Christmas: Sustainably Delicious by Michel Nischan.

How can you not love a cookbook that has a tagline like this?

A bit of a caveat, the “slow roasted” part does take 90 minutes, which seems ridiculous, but that time is 100% hands-off. Set it and forget it. In the original recipe, the cooking time was 4 hours to overnight! That is just completely unrealistic for our lifestyle.

And once you pull the tomatoes and basil out of the oven, it is at most 5 minutes until you are eating. Your active kitchen time is easily less that 10 minutes for this recipe.

Slow Roasted Tomato and Basil Bisque

print recipeview recipenutritional info

1 28 oz. can of HIGH-QUALITY Italian tomatoes (whole, peeled) or 6-7 fresh tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 large bunch basil
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. skim milk, scalded
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 300°. Pour whole tomatoes into a 9×13 baking dish. Slice tomatoes in half. Drizzle with 1/4 c. olive oil. Sprinkle with half basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes for 90 minutes until sauce is thickened.

In a blender, add tomatoes and sauce, remainder of basil and skim milk. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and small basil leaves for garnish. Perfect for grilled cheese dipping!

Makes 4-1 1/2 c. servings.

Let’s cook this. Preheat your oven to 300° and then dump out your tomatoes into a 9×13 baking dish. Using a sharp knife, slice the tomatoes into halves or quarters.

Drizzle the entire dish with the olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper accordingly.

I actually oversalted because I was too busy taking this photo. It was still delicious. Do as I say, not as I do (or photograph).

Add in some basil leaves. You could probably use dried basil, but it is very easy to grow basil on a window sill and I highly recommend it.

Roast in the oven for 90 minutes. About 20 minutes into it, your house will smell so amazing that you will be kissing my toes. I promise.

Take them out when the sauce is thickened and darkened.

Beautiful, eh? You could probably just throw these on top of some pasta and it’d make for a delicioso pasta sauce.

Set those tomatoes aside while you scald you milk. We scalded milk to assist in softening the dough for cinnamon rolls (twice in one entry!), but here, the only purpose is to bring up the milk to a hot enough temperature to speed along the soup process.

Now it is assembly time. Pull out your blender. Hey look, Babyface fixed mine after I overwhelmed it. Throw in your roasted tomatoes, juice oil and all. Plus the remainder of your basil.

Remove the little vent-y thing from your blender.

Cover the porthole with a kitchen towel and blend away.

Puree the heck out of it. You want it very smooth.

Then stream in the milk while the blender is running on the lowest setting.

Yum!

Look how well it matches. :)

Taste for seasoning.

Needed pepper!

And…you’re done. Easy, right?

Garnish with a swirl of olive oil and some baby basil leaves.

Other good topping ideas: feta, creme fraiche, scallions.

Or, to make it kid-friendly: Goldfish or soup crackers!

And since it is tomato soup, you have to serve it with a hot ham and cheese on the side.

Or, a more adult version—extra sharp cheddar, prosciutto, on Mediterranean olive bread.

Perfect for dipping!

And lets take a second to swoon over my brand new lemongrass Fiestaware serving dish. Thanks Dad and Mama!

Happy belly.

20 Comments

  1. *Droooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool* :D
    I love your tomato soup blender! Mine’s just boring ol’ black. But it works well! :)
    Can I ask why you remove the vent-y thing in the blender cover and use a towel instead?
    Also, I happen to be vegan, so would soymilk work or would the chemistry makeup of it not “scald” right? I’m a real dummy when it comes to cooking chemistry!
    Thanks for the fabulous recipes! :)

    • I remove the vent so steam can escape. Since you are adding so many hot ingredients, if you sealed it all up, you run the risk of the top popping off and splattering soup everywhere. Which would be un-fun. The kitchen towel lets steam escape, without letting soup escape.

      I’m not sure how soy milk would work. I’ve had problems with soy and almond milks curdling in hot liquids before. But you could try it. Just make sure you bring up the soy milk to an almost boil so it is the same temp as the tomato puree.

  2. This looks SO good! I’m going to print out the recipe and try it out.

    • YAY! And don’t forget you can easily add it to your SP tracker through the “View Recipe” link. I love using the recipe calculator on my recipes. :)

  3. 1. All of the pictures are incredible!!! They look so beautiful!

    2. Love simple/delicious recipes, can’t wait to try this one out!

    Jen

    • I love, love, LOVE these photos. The soup is such an amazing color that it was impossible to take a bad photo.
      And yes, try this! Simple and incredible!

  4. What a perfect meal! And love that it is healthy.

    • There are few meals more perfect than soup and grilled cheese. I could eat it daily!

  5. *drool* That look SO good! I wonder how it would taste if I substituted the dairy milk for a non-dairy one. I’m going without meat and dairy for 21 days. (PCRM’s 21 day Vegan KickStart). Beautiful Cassie!

    • I don’t see why not. Just make sure you bring the non-dairy milk up to temperature before mixing it in. I’ve had issues with soy and almond milk curdling if I put it into something hot when it is cold. Let me know how it turns out!

  6. Speechless. These pictures leave a stomach growling. The best quote thus far, “simple foods require high-quality ingredients.” This is such a correct statement for cooking. Fantastic pictures.

  7. Hey Cassie!

    I am defenitly going to add this to my recipe book!!! I wanted to ask you where you found your colorful spoons at? I love that there colorful and smaller so you take smaller bites…Trying all kinds of ways to eat slower!

  8. Thanks for the info! I’m defenitly going to get some, I LOVE COLOR! I also send you a message on Spark so you can just ignore it. :)

  9. Hi! I am in the process of making the soup and I wanted to ask about the milk. Is it important to scold it? Why do we scold the milk? How do you scald milk? Lol I’m kinda new to this.

    • There are lots of reasons to scald milk for different recipes, but for this one, you just need to bring the milk up to temperature. You don’t want to mix the cold milk with the warm tomatoes or you’ll have to reheat all the soup again. Scalding milk just means to bring it up to just before boiling (you’ll see little bubbles appear). Good luck!

  10. I love, love, love this recipe! It is so good! But I’m wondering two things… I have tons of fresh tomatoes, could I use those instead of the can? And do you think this soup would freeze well? I’m thinking quick lunches and small dinners.

    • Absolutely! Yes you can use fresh tomatoes. :)

      And I think it would freeze great.

  11. This looks fabulous!! I’m looking to can some tomato soup but I’m new to the process of canning; would it be possible to can this soup, or no? I’m wondering about canning the roasted tomatoes/basil, then adding the milk later. Any suggestions?

    • Hmm, tomatoes are really tricky because they just hover on the line that between acidic enough to waterbath can and not. It would definitely work if you did them in a pressure canner. :)

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